Lenovo’s second-generation X1 Fold could be the game-changer that the first was not.
The display is larger, the chassis is thinner, and the bezels are thinner.
In late 2020, I reviewed Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, the first PC with a foldable screen. It was a very cool idea at the time, but it wasn’t particularly, shall we say, usable. Lenovo has announced the “Next-generation” ThinkPad X1 Fold, its second attempt at this. I played with the device for a few minutes, and let me tell you: I am much more optimistic about this one.
Fans of the previous X1 Fold, as well as the ThinkPad line in general, will recognise much of the new X1 Fold. The device is dressed in the series’ standard black and red colour scheme, with the ThinkPad X1 logo emblazoned on the lid. A ThinkPad-style keyboard with a trackpoint and inverted-T arrow keys is included. It’s well-made, sturdy, and stylish.
But some changes have been made, and I believe they were correct.
Almost every major issue I had with the original X1 Fold was caused by its 13.3-inch size in some way. It worked fine as a 13-inch tablet, but when folded into laptop mode (which is a big part of the appeal of foldable screens like this), it was too small for daily use.
The size of the second-generation device has increased by 22% to 16 inches. (It’s also 25% thinner than the previous model.) After experimenting with the new device, I believe it is far more practical. The screen is clearly large enough for me to navigate my usual workflow while having multiple tabs open side by side.
The larger chassis allows for a larger keyboard. The keyboard on the 2020 X1 Fold was well-made, but it had to fit horizontally across a 13.3-inch device, which meant it was extremely cramped. Some keys had up to four characters crammed onto them, and I had to press three at a time to get a question mark.
This new keyboard deck (which magnetically attaches to the lower half of the chassis when the laptop is folded) is full-sized and backlit. I could type on it as I normally would. The keys were of ThinkPad quality. Needless to say, this is my favourite.
While we’re on the subject of the deck, this thing also has a haptic touchpad. More of these are appearing on Lenovo’s more compact ThinkPads, including the ultra-thin Z-Series. I usually find them to be a little thinner than other trackpads, but this one seemed fine. I’ll need more time with it to form an opinion.
Having said that, the bar for this touchpad is extremely low. The first-screen generation’s was barely large enough to scroll, let alone navigate. The size alone makes this one a clear improvement.
The X1 Fold is powered by 12th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors with integrated graphics and optional support for Intel’s vPro business platform on the inside. Lenovo hasn’t specified which models will be available, but ThinkPads are notorious for being endlessly configurable to the point of stressing me out.
With the option of Windows 11 Home or Windows 11 Pro, you’ll be able to get SSD storage of up to 1TB and up to 32GB of DDR5 memory. There is an optional Wacom pen that magnetically attaches to the chassis. The screen is a 16.3-inch 2024 x 2560 touch OLED that folds down to 12 inches.
There’s a 48Whr battery (with “optional additional 16Whr based on configuration”) and no battery life estimate, which…frightens me a little, because the first X1 Fold charged in under five hours and had a 50Whr battery. Asus’s 17.3-inch Zenbook 17 Fold, which was also announced this week, demonstrated that an OLED foldable can last more than six hours. We’ll have to wait and see.
In my brief use of this device to navigate Chrome and watch videos, it appeared to function adequately. That is a very encouraging sign. I enjoyed using the first-generation X1 Fold, but there were a number of issues, particularly with the onscreen keyboard. I’m curious to see how Windows 11 performs in this new chassis, as Lenovo isn’t known for shipping buggy software left and right (unlike some other laptop manufacturers).
Then there’s the price, which is the elephant in the room.
If you haven’t already guessed, this device will not be cheap. It is scheduled to hit stores in November, with a starting price of $2,499. The stylus and keyboard were not included with the 13-inch model, which cost an additional $250.
Surprisingly, this is the same price as the 13-inch model (and this is a bigger, thinner, and generally more usable device). And it’s significantly cheaper than the $3499.99 Zenbook 17 Fold, the only other foldable near this size that we’ve seen so far this year.
This could end up being a much better deal for foldable buyers than the 17-inch Fold — but we haven’t had a chance to thoroughly test it yet, so there could be a slew of catches.
I do not expect this device to be flawless. Even if Lenovo has done everything possible, the experience of using the device may be heavily influenced by how well other companies can get their software to work with it.
However, as Lenovo’s representatives walked me through this device, I could tell they were genuinely excited about it. I believe they were aware of the 13-inch Fold’s limitations and were relieved to see a larger foldable screen arrive. Lenovo may be able to create the groundbreaking device that they envisioned for the first X1 Fold in this new form factor.
The foldable future isn’t here yet, but with each new release, it gets closer.